FMTC Rolls Out a Much-Needed Data Feed Cleanup Tool

December 10th, 2021 | Posted in Computers, Database

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Data feed — a file (.CSV, .XML, .XLS or any other type) that lists a merchant’s
product information which merchants provide to affiliates enabling them to feature the merchant’s products right on affiliate-built websites [more here].

Cleanup — the act or process of cleaning up [source].

Unclean data feeds have been an ongoing problem. Once exported from merchants’ databases they would often have unnecessary data migrate through. From HTML code to special characters (like & ampersands and ” or ‘ quotation marks), and from whitespace to other things… they would frequently contain data that would make them difficult for affiliates to work with. The less savvy affiliates would consequently just skip merchants with poor data feeds and move on to working with the advertisers that provided clean ones instead.

Beforehand, to make unclean data feeds usable, good affiliate managers would work with coders (in-house or outsourced) to write scripts that would tidy up the problematic product feeds.

Yesterday, however, FMTC quietly rolled out an invaluable addition to their merchant/advertiser toolbox — a brand new Datafeed Cleanup tool.

The solution is available to Premium (read: paid) subscribers only, and the price of using the tool depends on whether you run your program on one or multiple affiliate networks.

Having just “test-driven it” personally, I can report that on a 7,000+ SKUs data feed it took me only 14 seconds to upload the CSV feed to FMTC and then 45 seconds for the tool to tidy it up and download the clean feed to my computer.

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How Wearable Tech Could Spark A New Privacy Revolution

July 31st, 2021 | Posted in Information Technology, Technology, Uncategorized

Fears over privacy are nothing new. As users began to see the sheer availability of information online, and the amount of personal data being seen and used by tech companies, they became rightly concerned over how much information would be available to companies and individuals, and how that information would be used. The increasing stream of news about the scope and intensity of government-backed surveillance programs has only added to the paranoia.

As we enter a new era of technology marked bywearable devices like the Apple Watch and Google Glass, those fears — which have been simmering in the minds of consumers for years — may finally begin to boil over.

The Problem With Apps

When it comes to user privacy, there are two kinds of apps to worry about. The first kind is designed to gather information about a user. For example, social media apps go out of their way to draw as much information about their users as possible. This is advantageous for both users and companies — users get more involved with their networks, and companies get more information to sell to advertisers.

However, this can be concerning to users who do not wish their information to be sold or to be publicly available. The same is true for tracking-style apps like Xora, an app whose deletion prompted the recent firing of an employee who resented the idea of being tracked 24/7.

The second kind may seem counterintuitive: apps dedicated to preserving user privacy. Snapchat, an app supposedly dedicated to anonymity and user-data protection, was recently the victim of multiple information leaks. These types of apps are dangerous because they lull users into a sometimes-false sense of security, prompting them to allow more of their information to be used without realizing the finer details of each company’s unique privacy policy.

But the real problem with apps is in their nature. Because they’re installed on a device, and often running in the background, they can constantly draw in new information about a user. Compare this to a few generations back, when the Internet could only be accessed through a hard-wired machine for specific, designated periods of time.

Wearable devices exaggerate these problems in two ways. First, they’re increasing the popularity of apps over traditional web browsing experiences. Because wearable devices have smaller screens and more intuitive interfaces, users will begin relying on apps over any other type of function or service.

Second, they’re being used in real-time. Rather than relying on a stationary desktop device or occasionally checking in on a previous-generation mobile device, wearable devices are worn and used on the go. This means greater volumes of streaming information and fewer stopgaps for the end user.

Fears Already Manifesting

Wearable devices are already starting to worry some experts about the security of private user data. Every generation of technology opens the door to new possibilities, but also opens the door to new vulnerabilities. Security professionals argue that the Apple Watch is a relatively secure device, at least compared to comparable wearable devices currently on the market — but the potential vulnerabilities are still a major unknown.

The Chinese Army has already taken measures to ban the use of the Apple Watch entirely. While China’s acts of censorship and routine banishments of Western technologies aren’t exactly new, their take-no-chances stance reflects a very real, logical concern.

What This Means For The Future Of Users

As more people become aware of the privacy threats marked by wearable devices, there could be a very significant leap forward in security and user privacy in tech companies. Responding to public concerns, app developers can make greater efforts to secure their apps and clearly explain their privacy policies. Device makers like Apple and Google can go on record about the potential vulnerabilities of their devices and inform the public about the best ways to protect themselves.

Perhaps most importantly, government organizations can step in to create some much-needed regulations about user privacy and corporate privacy policies. Already, the European Union is stepping in to protect userprivacy concerns as they relate to Google’s search engine and core products — the next step would be formalizing those regulations across the board for any devices and technologies, and institute those regulations in countries throughout the world.

The trade-off is, of course, that increased regulations mean decreased liberties — both for individuals and corporations. While some will push for strict regulations and tighter privacyand security, others will maintain that personal freedoms are more important than a fleeting idea of safety.

What’s important here is not where the issue will settle, but the fact that the issue will soon be up for debate. Regardless of where these regulations and new approaches to privacyland, wearable devices are about to provoke a new revolution in user privacy.

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